Inalienable Rights: A Litmus Test for Liberal Theories of Justice

This paper published in the European journal, Law and Philosophy, examines the intellectual history of inalienable rights theory, and critically examines the work of liberal philosophers of justice, John Rawls and Robert Nozick, from that perspective.

Translatio versus Concessio: Retrieving the debate about contracts of alienation with an application to today’s employment contract

Liberal thought is based on the fundamental question of consent versus coercion. The autocracies and slavery systems of the past were based on coercion whereas today’s democracy in the political sphere and employment system in the economy are based on consent. This paper retrieves an almost forgotten contractarian tradition, dating from at least the Middle Ages, that based political autocracy and economic slavery on explicit or implicit voluntary contracts. Hence the democratic and antislavery movements had to hammer out arguments not simply in favor of consent and against coercion, but arguments based on the distinction between contracts to alienate (translatio) sovereignty versus contracts to only delegate (concessio) self-governance rights.

On Rawls and Nussbaum

This paper was delivered at a 2008 conference in Leuven on Martha Nussbaum’s book Frontiers of Justice. The paper was to be published in the conference proceedings, but somehow that never happened.


This old typescript was probably the first written and published version of the argument for worker self-management (as we called it in those days) based on democratic theory and the labor theory of property seen as the property application of the usual principle of imputing legal responsibility in accordance with de facto responsibility.

The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm

My second book was the 1989 The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm. The book was revised for the Chinese translation, and that is the version that can be downloaded here. This book develops the labor theory of property and democratic theory arguments for a democratic firm, and analyzes the connection between those principles and the legal structure of the firms.

Employment Contract and Liberal Thought

This was the first of several papers that focused on the employment contract and inalienable rights, rather than on the labor theory of property.

The Charter Cities Debate and Democratic Theory

The charter cities debate is great for helping to bring out these non-democratic aspects of classical liberalism and conventional economic theory not to mention right-wing libertarianism.